Jason Reddock is the textbook definition of the broke college student. At 30 years old he has abandoned his job as a welder to better himself and get a degree. But it isn't easy.
"The struggle to pay tuition, the struggle to pay bills - it's hard," he said.
Census Bureau numbers show 51.8% of college students living off campus and not with relatives live below the poverty line. 79% of all college students work in addition to taking classes.
Reddock has a heart for those struggling, so in addition to his studies, he writes stories for the local food bank newsletter about the people who use it. He believes humanizing the marginalized in our society will empower them, and give them a voice. He says the people he interviews at Lakewood's FISH Food Bank are not your stereotypical poor. Need at the facility is up 136% since 2008, according to food bank spokeswoman Emily Happy. That's 97,000 visits per year at one Lakewood location alone.
"These are average everyday people trying to make ends meet and maintain their families," said Reddock.
In telling the stories of the less fortunate, Reddock has come to learn that their stories are his story. He, too, is a client at the FISH Food Bank.
"It takes a lot of the pressure off, knowing I can get a week of food and not have to worry about where I'm going to eat," he said.
Without the generosity of his Pierce County neighbors, Reddock wouldn't be getting his degree.
"Nobody gets anywhere in life without a little help," he said. "Everybody falls on tough times and everybody needs a helping hand."
KING 5 is collecting contributions for Washington's food banks this Saturday in the annual Hometeam Harvest event. You can donate cash at any US Bank branch, purchase a bag of groceries at Safeway, or text "hometeam" to 8-5-9-4-4 to make a $10 donation.